31 July 2012
Environmental organisation Friends of the Earth today raised concerns about the mismanagement of the Strzelecki Ranges Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve. A recent site visit revealed widespread spraying of herbicides targeting indigenous species.
Friends of the Earth spokesperson Anthony Amis said “In the past Hancock have claimed that the only time that herbicides would be used in the reserve would be during summer to control blackberries. From what we recently observed at College Creek it would appear that hundreds of hectares of indigenous vegetation inside the reserve could end up being sprayed. The question is why.”
“It would be better to let nature take its course and not intervene in the regeneration process. These wet forests are more than capable of looking after themselves. They do not need to be sprayed with herbicides.”
The Cores and Links Reserve was established in 2006 under a Heads of Agreement. This Agreement was then overturned in May 2008 with a secret deal set up between Hancock Victorian Plantations and The State Government. The new agreement allowed for clearfelling of hundreds of hectares of forest in nationally significant College Creek and the Agnes River.
“Not only have the community had to endure widespread logging and herbicide spraying in the reserve which had been protected under the community supported 2006 agreement, but earlier in the year conservationists found remnant trees, including koala habitat deliberately torched. Log dumps were deliberately located under remnant trees and set ablaze. At one location it also appeared that coals had been deliberately located under a tree several hundred years old. Poor roading standards inside the reserve have also been apparent” said Mr Amis.
“We have also seen the reserve subjected to clearfelling of hundreds of hectares in the nationally significant College Creek, but over the past year hundreds of hectares have also been clearfelled in the important Agnes River Catchment, which also supplies drinking water to 2000 residents in South Gippsland. Who is watching what Hancock are doing in the reserve other than environmentalists and local residents. Where is the State Government?” Mr Amis asked.
Logging of the reserve also endangers the only remaining Victorian populations of genetically robust Koalas. All other Koalas in Victoria are the result of inbreeding and translocations. Earlier this year Minister Peter Ryan handed over $1.3 million to local Landcare groups in South Gippsland for tree planting and fences. These grants were largely in his electorate and a large percentage of the grants were supposedly based on restoring Koala habitat.
“Unfortunately such replanting will pale into insignificance when one compares the amount of koala habitat being wiped out by Hancock Victorian Plantations in upper elevations of the Strzelecki Ranges” concluded Mr Amis.
For more information contact Anthony Amis at Friends of the Earth on: (03) 9419 8700 (ext 11). or 03 9830 6164